Weprin’s dissent bolsters opposition vs. Pathmark

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The current proposal is to build a 55,000-square-foot Pathmark supermarket at 69th Avenue by 195th Lane, the site of a small commercial center. Federal Realty Investment Trust, the developer, intends to raze the existing buildings to make way for the new regional Pathmark complete with rooftop parking. Federal Realty Investment Trust did not return calls for comment.

Area civic groups are dead set against the proposal. The West Cunningham Park Civic Association invited Weprin to talk about Pathmark and other problems, such as Klein Farm.

"The community doesn't want it," Weprin told the 50 people who filled a small room on the ground floor of the Christ Lutheran Church on the corner of 73rd Avenue and 188th Street. "I don't want it."

Weprin said that if history was any guide, Fresh Meadows need not worry about Pathmark. Generally, if a city councilman is against a proposal in his own district, the rest of the Council sides with that Councilman, said Weprin.

"It doesn't have much chance of passing because I'd be prepared to support the community," he said in a telephone interview. Weprin said he will meet with Pathmark representatives in the next few weeks.

Still, the community is not entirely convinced of Weprin's assertions.

"We'll know it's done when it's done," said Bob Harris, president of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association.

In the meeting, Weprin also said Pathmark officials indicated they were abandoning the project due to community opposition.

But Rich Savner, a Pathmark spokesman, denied that the company is planning to pull out of the project.

"We have in no way said we would not proceed with this location," said Savner. "We're not at that point whatsoever."

Savner said Pathmark will be presenting a new proposal this summer. "We want to make sure we have a plan for the local community and Pathmark," he said.

Nevertheless, the community was not moved by Pathmark's pledge.

"The whole community including myself is against it," said Ben Rosof, a board member of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association. "It's one thing to have a supermarket for the community. It's another thing to have it for half the borough."

Residents said they oppose the Pathmark proposal because of its size and the prospect of 18 wheel trucks barreling down residential streets.

"It just seems like the wrong size store for the area," said Elizabeth Hogan, president of the Fresh Meadows Tenants Association. Another chief concern is the close proximity of PS 26. "There is nothing that a Pathmark of that size could do but put our students in jeopardy," said Rosof.

There is a fear in Fresh Meadows about a sliding scale. The theory is if Pathmark gets a zoning variance to build the superstore, then it would be easier to get variances over at the Klein Farm and other properties in Fresh Meadows, said Rosof.

Hogan said she is not opposed to all supermarkets - just superstores, such as the proposed Pathmark in Fresh Meadows.

"We'd love to have a market in the neighborhood," she said. "We'd be perfectly happy to see Key Food move over to the Dollar Store."

Reach reporter Tommy Hallissey by e-mail at, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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